HIGHLIGHTS: Jabeur defeats Pegula at the WTA Finals

Iga Swiatek vs. Caroline Garcia

“I’m happy that we got used to the conditions pretty quickly,” Swiatek said after her straight-set win over Daria Kasatkina on Tuesday.

Swiatek was talking about the indoor hard courts in Fort Worth, which are slower and lower-bouncing than the norm on tour. She has shown this year that she can deal with slow; her clay-court win streak and Roland Garros title are proof of that. But low is not ideal for her Western grip; her early loss on Wimbledon’s grass was a sign of that. Still, outside of that defeat, Swiatek has solved all of the important problems that have been put in front of her this season.

On Thursday the WTA’s No. 1 will have a potentially thorny issue facing her from across the net. That would be Garcia, who handed Swiatek one of her eight defeats (against 65 wins) of 2022, 6-4 in the third set on clay in Warsaw. Garcia’s victory was part of the summer run that took her to a title in Cincinnati and to the semifinals of the US Open.

Since then she’s had a drop-off, and she split with her coach, which is why I expected her to lose to the home-country favorite, Gauff, in her opener. But Garcia was every bit as aggressive, and as good, as she was when she beat Coco at the Open. After that repeat performance, will the Frenchwoman be able to knock off Swiatek for a second straight time as well?

That’s obviously a higher hill to climb. Iga herself is back in form; starting at the Open, she has won 15 of her last 16 matches. If the final tournament of 2022 is anything like the rest of them, she’ll run the table in Fort Worth, too. Winner: Swiatek


If Swiatek and Kasatkina win, Swiatek advances as the group winner, and Gauff would be eliminated (Kasatkina and Garcia would play for the No.2 spot on Saturday).

If Swiatek and Kasatkina win, Swiatek advances as the group winner, and Gauff would be eliminated (Kasatkina and Garcia would play for the No.2 spot on Saturday).

Coco Gauff vs. Daria Kasatkina

Gauff and Kasatkina are two of the best tennis stories of 2022. They’re likable, talented and politically engaged, and each lived up to her talents in a way she hadn’t before. But none of that was enough to earn them a win, or even a set, against Swiatek and Garcia on Tuesday. Gauff and Kasatkina were on the run, and neither had the firepower to hit her way out of it.

Are we in for an all-defensive battle on Fort Worth’s slow courts? Or can one of them take charge of the rallies? Kasatkina is 2-0 against Gauff, which includes a victory in April on indoor clay in Stuttgart. Rather than giving Coco the pace she likes, she gives her spin—looping, high-bouncing topspin that forces the American to make contact out of her strike zone, and create her own pace.

Which she can do on the right day. Gauff hits a bigger serve and flatter, more penetrating ground strokes; she competes well whatever the score may be; and she shouldn’t have to worry about Kasatkina rushing her the way Garcia did on Tuesday. She’ll have time to get set and hit her shots. It would be nice to think that, after the breakthrough year she’s had, Coco will be able to crack them when she needs them one more time. Winner: Gauff